CIRM awards Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute $5.5 million grant for development of cardiac stem cell therapies

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Funds for developing novel stem cell treatments for heart attack patients

A team of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute stem cell researchers led by Eduardo Marb-n, M.D., Ph.D. has been awarded a four-year, $5.5 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to fund research leading to clinical trials of new treatments for heart attack patients.

The grant will be used to continue Marb-n's development of cardiac stem cell therapies to strengthen and heal damaged heart muscle caused by cardiac arrest. The grant is part of a new strategy by the California state stem cell agency aimed at speeding the process of moving medical research from the laboratory to patient care.

Generally, it can take a decade or more to develop a new medical treatment to the point of securing federal approval for a clinical trial. The state institute's Disease Team Research Awards, however, are designed to help researchers develop medical theories into treatments tested by clinical trials in four years or less.

Marb-n's team was one of 11 in California to receive a Disease Team Research Award and is the only team focusing on heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2009, an estimated 785,000 Americans will have a first-time heart attack and about 470,000 will have a recurrent attack.

Earlier this year, Marb-n, who is director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, and his team completed the first procedure in which a patient's own heart tissue was used to grow specialized heart stem cells that were then injected back into the patient's heart in an effort to repair and re-grow healthy muscle in a heart that had been injured by a heart attack. The minimally-invasive procedure was completed on the first patient on June 26.

The Disease Team Award will enable Marb-n's team to develop other, new stem cell therapies for heart patients, including a potential treatment for patients with advanced heart failure.

"The support Cedars-Sinai is receiving from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine will be an important element to succeeding in the fight against heart disease," Marb-n said. "What we work on in our stem cell lab today could translate into tomorrow's innovative treatment for heart attack patients."

"We are delighted that Dr. Marb-n is receiving CIRM funding to continue his groundbreaking translational science devoted to regenerating diseased myocardial tissue," said Shlomo Melmed, M.D., Cedars-Sinai Medical Center vice president of academic affairs and dean of the medical faculty. "This award validates the leading role of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in developing cutting-edge treatments for heart disease."

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was established in November, 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at universities and research institutions.

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